The USC Trojans (11-18, 3-14 Pac-12) look to end the season on a high note when they travel across town to face the UCLA Bruins (18-12, 10-7) in the final game of the season. While USC will not be participating in the NCAA tournament later this month, a victory could be huge for the program and give the team momentum leading into the upcoming Pac-12 Tournament — even into the next season.USC won their last home game of the season when they bested the Washington Huskies (15-13, 4-12) by a final score of 70-55. Sophomore forward Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 16 points while freshman guard Elijah Stewart continued to shine in the absence of freshman point guard Jordan McLaughlin, who was lost for the season with a shoulder injury, by scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Redshirt sophomore guard Katin Reinhardt scored 11 points, and sophomore guard Julian Jacobs had a full stat line once again with 8 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The win over Washington gave the Trojans their third conference win of the season, which is more than they had all of last season.UCLA is coming off a win over the Washington State Cougars (12-16, 6-10) by a score of 72-67 to keep their tournament chances alive. Senior guard Norman Powell scored a game-high 28 points. Junior forward Tony Parker came off the bench to contribute 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Bryce Alford and freshman forward Kevon Looney had 13 and 12 points respectively.USC will try to play the role of spoiler against their rivals. If UCLA is able to take home the victory, they will have ended their season on a three-game winning streak. The strong ending to their season could give them a stronger case towards earning a berth in the tournament, but they still would not have a significant nonconference win under their belt. They lost to every ranked opponent they played during the year.The last time these two teams squared off, the Bruins blew out the Trojans in the second half to secure the win. The Trojans fell to the Bruins 83-66 and they were out-rebounded by the crosstown rival 41-20. Jovanovic was the leading scorer for the Trojans the last time around with 20 points, but Powell and Alford shined for UCLA as they had 22 and 21 points respectively. The difference in the first meeting was the second half, during which UCLA shot 62.5 percent and extended the lead.Jovanovic has been the most consistent player for USC this season although a big game against UCLA would help validate his skill set and give the young forward confidence heading into the off season ahead of next season.“It was a big win because it’s a confidence boost,” Jovanovic said.Jacobs has also shined in the absence of McLaughlin and has consistently been posting impressive stat lines. The captain of the squad has been near a triple double a couple of times, but it is his leadership on the court that has really made the difference. He has been more vocal in directing his teammates and calling plays. Jacobs knew that the win would be a huge boost heading into his junior year and was glad that he performed so well in front of the home crowd.“We wanted to give them something to look forward to next year,” Jacobs said.The game will be held at Pauley Pavilion and will tip off at 6 pm. The game will air on ESPN2.
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